In Merrillville, public safety officers help take a bite out of, well, pie
By Karen Caffarini Post-Tribune correspondent August 6, 2013 8:18PM
Merrillville police Detective Cmdr. Bob Wiley (left) and firefighter Ethan Van Til pace themselves in a pie-eating contest while a young resident cheers them on during the town's National Night Out event Tuesday, Aug. 6, 2013, at town hall. | Karen Caffarini~for Sun-Times Media
Updated: September 8, 2013 6:23AM
MERRILLVILLE — The crowd chanted, “Eat more pie! Eat more pie!” and the seven good-natured, and somewhat hungry, contestants did just that, consuming morsel after morsel of apple and cherry pie.
In the end, police Cpl. Dave DeSalle was declared the winner Tuesday night, eating 13 pieces of pie served up by town officials and donated by Baker’s Square.
He beat out five other police officers, including Police Chief Joe Petruch, and one firefighter in the contest, which was one of several events as the town participated in the annual National Night Out, an annual crime prevention event that takes place the first Tuesday in August.
The events are designed to heighten crime and drug prevention awareness, generate support for and participation in local anti-crime programs, strengthen neighborhood spirit and send a message to criminals that neighborhoods are organized.
The Merrillville Night Out also included a Taste of Merrillville, with several local restaurants serving food, the Northwest Indiana SWAT Team and the Merrillville Fire Department’s Fire Safety House.
“Anything is good if it can help stop crime,” said resident Ron Sullivan, who attended his first Night Out with granddaughter Kristina Sullivan, 26, and great-granddaughter Annabelle Sullivan, 5.
Three residents of the AHEPA Phase 5 senior apartments enjoyed a meal and a bag full of goodies as they waited for the pie-eating contest to begin.
“This is something really nice that they do every year. It’s wonderful. We need to band together for crime prevention,” said one of the residents, Lorraine Edmond.
Town Judge Gina Jones watched as her 4-year-old son, Gavin Jones, won Baker’s Square gift certificates in a toss game. The judge was supposed to be a participant in the Night Out, getting dunked in a dunk tank.
“I was all ready to get dunked, but I was told it would be unethical by the Judicial Center,” Jones said.
Instead, Jones joined the others as a spectator, enjoying the activities.